ALA Legislation Assembly
Submitted by Arthur F. Miller
Chair Nancy Kranich asked each of the sections to report, and if necessary, discuss anything that could under the heading of the group.
- ALCTS reported that the section is creating two advocacy task forces, one of which was to concentrate on items outside the organization that should have a response of the division. Explained the concern that such things could too easily fall through the cracks.
- NMRT expressed a concern regarding communication and information problems, especially the difference in approaches between generations. Suggested the creation of short videos would be more effective way to reach younger members than written notices and reports.
- ASCLA discussed plans on working in the new Congress toward a Library Caucus. Also discussed continuing work and support for Deaf Cultural Digital Library (DCDL) and the Digital Public Library (DPLA).
- Barbara Ford, Representative to UNESCO gave an overview of attempts in Congress and at the State Department to re-establish U.S. funding for UNESCO. Explained the need for a waiver of the law as applied to Palestine and UNESCO. There was discussion of UNESCO supports for libraries world-wide, which makes our involvement appropriate.
- Government Information Subcommittee said they had nothing major to report because the government agencies seem to be in a holding pattern. The only action they mentioned was a request from the GPO for information on the number of printed copies of a title that are necessary to meet preservation standards.
- ALSC is trying to revive the Joint Youth Legislative Group. Problems they find are not much a culture for advocacy, nor any clear trace set-up or group memory.
- Federal Library and Armed Forces Library Round Table discussed the fact that federal libraries are still under pressure, just not the same sort of assault that hit the EPA libraries. There are continuing budget pressures on all the libraries that varies by department. Also, the libraries are now being offered off-site storage by one of the government agencies at much more reasonable rates than previously. Of main concern is the National Library of Agriculture, which is cutting back to serving only the departmental staff. This could be a trend for government agency libraries.
- PLA reported no particular legislative activities, but they are working on early literacy with Head Start this fall.
- GODORT discussed a compact tip sheet for Digital Rights Management.
- Music Library Association expressed their concerns about first sales issues for digital audio files. Many libraries are trying to buy digital audio files but often cannot buy them at all. Pre-1972 files are not under the same current federal law but they are watching to see what happens.
- Library of Congress had legislative concerns to report. However, they pointed out that 2015 will be the 800-year anniversary of the Magna Carta. In celebration, one of the original copies will be on loan to the Library of Congress for display and a program in 2014. (This will be the same copy that was sent to the Library of Congress during World War II for safekeeping.)
- AASL noted that they have a regular complaint that the official National Library Legislative Day is on a bad day for school librarians. They cannot get away from work at that time for many reasons and so their input is lessened. Pointed out that they need is great for support for K–12 libraries that are being closed across the country. This led to a discussion about national support versus that fact schools are handled locally.
Meeting was adjourned without any call for new Legislation Assembly agendas.
ALA Membership Task Force
The members of the ALA Membership Promotion Task Force are representatives of divisions, round tables, and interest groups in ALA who are charged with promoting ALA membership within their respective groups. At its meetings at conferences, the Task Force discusses broad issues related to membership promotion and retention.
The Task Force continued discussion of potential outreach activities to current library school students at its meeting in Anaheim. Chris Kyauk of LLAMA expressed an interest in creating a website or wiki that library school students could consult for information about ALA and its specific divisions, round tables, interest groups, etc. Information about all of these topics already exists; it just needs to be re-packaged for library school students. The Task Force recommended that a proposal for an Emerging Leaders Project be submitted for this project. An online “wizard” could be created that would help library school students find groups within ALA that would match their career and professional interests. Chris Kyauk (LLAMA) and Eric Resnis (ALA Membership Committee) agreed to work on this project.
Task Force members representing divisions, round tables, and interest groups in ALA gave status reports on the recent activities of their groups. Representatives of AASL, ACRL, ALCTS, ALSC, LIRT, LLAMA, and the Young Professionals Subcommittee gave brief summaries of the recent membership activities their groups have been involved in. Many representatives commented on the successful 101 programs they organized at the conference in Anaheim.
Ron Jankowski, ALA Membership Development Director, reported on the membership statistics for the representatives present at the meeting. AASL, ACRL, ALCTS, ALSC, and LIRT had decreases in membership. LLAMA had a slight increase in the number of members in its organization. AASL reported that it has dissolved its Membership Committee and LLAMA reported that its Membership Committee is in the process of being re-organized or combined with an existing LLAMA committee.
Kay Cassell and Ron Jankowski led the Task Force in a discussion on strategies for potential adjustments to the current ALA dues structure. The last time ALA raised dues for personal members was in 1996. The Association is now considering ideas for making future adjustments to the personal member dues rates for 2013 or 2014. The Task Force considered a document where two approaches to making future adjustments to dues levels were outlined. The first approach would tie future dues increases to an external financial index, such as the Consumer Price Index. The second approach initially would raise dues by $10 (proportionally less for certain classes of personal members, such as students, first-year members, and others) and then tie future dues increases to the Consumer Price Index.
If adopted, the first approach to future dues restructuring would generate about $150,000 in additional revenue the first year after implementation. The five-year cumulative total of additional revenue for ALA would be approximately $800,000, if the first approach were implemented.
After the first year of implementation, the second approach would generate about $380,000 in additional revenue for ALA, if approved. With this second approach, the cumulative total of additional revenue for ALA after five years would be $1,000,000.
At conference in Anaheim, these two approaches were presented to the ALA Membership Committee, the ALA Membership Promotion Task Force, the ALA Budget and Analysis Review Committee, and the ALA Finance and Audit Committee. The feedback from these groups will be incorporated into a proposal that will be discussed at the fall meetings of the ALA Executive Board.
ASCLA Accessibility Assembly
The ASCLA Accessibility Assembly is currently drafting a new Mission, Goals and Objectives document, and the assembly members would appreciate comments from all quarters. The draft is posted on ALA Connect under the title New-Assembly-mission-statement. Please feel free to contact me with any comments you have, and I'll pass them along.
Freedom to Read Foundation
Two cases discussed at the Freedom to Read Foundation are of particular interest to librarians. A decision has been reached in the Bradburn et al. v. North Central Regional Library District, which we have been following since 2006. Three library users, represented by the ACLU of Washington State, filed suit in federal district court to challenge the library system’s refusal to honor requests by adult patrons to temporarily disable internet filters for sessions of uncensored reading and research. On April 10, 2012, the federal district court held that the library filtering policy did not violate the federal constitution, holding that the library may make content-based decisions on which material can be provided to patrons on Internet terminals in the same manner as it makes collection decisions for hard copies of material in the library, despite the fact that the same space limitations and funding issues do not apply to Internet materials. The court upheld the policy in part because of the court’s belief that such a policy was necessary because the libraries involved “are relatively small in size and only one has a partition separating the children’s portion of the library from the remainder of the library.”
The court’s decision upholding the library’s filtering policy appears to be in conflict with the decision of the Supreme Court in the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) case, which was upheld because the justices concluded -- based on the statements of the Solicitor General at oral argument -- that filtering for adults would be disabled by request and without the need for adults to justify their request for access to particular sites.
In a similar ongoing case Hunter v. City of Salem and the Board of Trustees, Salem [Missouri] Public Library, the ongoing lawsuit charges the Salem Public Library and its board of trustees with unconstitutionally blocking access to websites discussing minority religions by using filtering software that improperly classifies the sites as “occult” or “criminal.” This past April, the court refused to dismiss Ms. Hunter’s lawsuit and ordered the case to trial to determine if the library director and library board violated Ms. Hunter’s First Amendment rights by refusing to unblock websites discussing astrology and the Wiccan religion that were blocked by the library’s filter. The court has set a trial date of June 24, 2013.
Developing Issues Committee
The Developing Issues Committee identified two emerging issues that may impact intellectual freedom in libraries and give rise to future litigation. The first is libraries’ increasing adoption of new OPACs that may compromise user privacy, and ALA policies that counsel against the use of prejudicial labels on books. The second issue is the expansion of CIPA’s filtering requirements to students’ off-campus activities in their homes by installing highly restrictive filtering software on school-issued laptop computers. This raises concerns about the ability of youth to acquire digital literacy by exploring the unfiltered Internet with the tutelage of their parents; and the widening of the digital divide, favoring those whose parents can afford both an Internet connection and a private computer over those youth who can only use filtered computers.